VAMPIRE HEAVEN?

pearly gatesDo you think there is a heaven for vampires? Should there be? Would it be the same heaven humans go to, or a place all their own? I’ve explored this thought a LOT, simply because Gabriel Strickland, the double dead vampire in Cold in California, my urban fantasy book being released on May 15, is working his way toward heaven. Sort of. You can imagine how tough something like that would be. Poor dude sees his final demise, thinks it’s totally over, only to find himself living out purgatory in a West Hollywood warehouse with a bunch of other dead supernaturals. He has a chance to earn a ticket through the Pearly Gates. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Ladies and gentlemen, let’s go through the pros and cons. Not everyone wanted to be a vampirePRO – Not every vampire asks to become a vampire. We’ve all read the stories and seen the movies, right? Most vampires didn’t ask for it. It’s usually a surprise sneak attack or worse yet, an offer of misunderstood immortality. Granted, the newbie adjusts quickly to the demands of his new existence. He may struggle to hold on to some of his humanity, but to become a cruel, evil creature, one must consciously choose to be so. There are vampires all over the fictional universe that think before making the wicked choices. CON – Not every vampire finds it so terrible, especially if it feeds their need for mischief. Now, naturally there are criminal and questionable humans all over the place—my Uncle Nunzio comes to mind. There is the chance that one of them reluctantly becomes vampire … and zealously likes it. Those personalities relish in the mayhem and bloody chaos they can wreak on human beings, mostly because they liked it so much when they were human. An evil human soul has no more chance at reaching heaven than an evil vampire soul, so I say. gotta eatPRO – A vampire’s gotta eat to survive. Okay, it is a conundrum, but solutions can be sought. Charlaine Harris invented True Blood for her vampires. Being Human’s vampire Aiden worked as a nurse and fed from the blood bank bags. Good vampire souls find ways not to drink too much blood and keep their human hosts, friends, and acquaintances alive and well.  Restraint is the name of the game, even though a vampire has to eat. After all, survival is more than nutrition, it’s also emotional support, a shoulder to lean on, and an occasional ride to the airport late at night. CON – A vampire doesn’t have to kill or turn his lunch into an immortal dining companion either. I sometimes think of vampires as human teenagers just after the full bloom of puberty—out of control with little desire to reign in their new found sexual and emotional tendencies. It must be like eating chocolate. When have you had enough? When should you stop? Opps, the chocolate is gone, too bad, too sad. Seriously, aren’t the vampires who at least try to take the noble road more attractive? Don’t eat so much or so fast, damnit! Bored LestatPRO – A conscience is a good thing! Louis might have bored the hell out of Lestat, but at least he tried to preserve his humanity. Now we’re getting in to the definition of a soul. Is it conscience? Is it guilt? Remorse? Acting and feeling truly contrite for something one has done? If those feelings and emotions relate to the soul, than there are many, MANY, vampires in fiction who have retained their soul. It can be done! YAY! CON – Bad vampires live a lot longer. There’s a lot of fictional proof that evil, cruel, and demonic vampires have an inbred self-survival gene. If it ever comes to their continued existence or the life of a mere human’s—slurp, choice made. Even though many famous and not-so-famous vampires have complained about the boredom of immortality, most aren’t interested in facing the alternative. loving motherPRO – Vampires were once human and cared about society. Yes, they were born, tiny, soft and sweet, loved in their mother’s arms, and taught all the rules of living within society. They understand the laws, the morals, and the reasons for toeing the line. Most people do. Granted, once turned into a bloodsucking monster, it’s a hard road keeping to those strict societal limitations, but luckily, many of our most beloved vampire heroes do their best. CON – Few vampires go to confession. The ones that don’t learn the lesson in their human life then discover that vampiric life is a free pass from all the rules, run amuck. We like those vampires too, don’t get me wrong. Who doesn’t love a bad boy? The question is … do they get a chance at redemption? What are your thoughts? Does a vampire have a right to heaven or not? Even if they’re doing their best and being as good as a vampire could be?

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Cold in California

Book 1, Twice Baked Vampire Series

COMING SOON!

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Supernatural Characters – What’s in a Name?

Where were we? Vampires werewolves and trolls, oh my! Here at Vampire Explored we talk about where the paranormal ideas come from and where they go. What they mean and what they don’t mean.

So … let’s play the name game.

What’s in a character name that makes it memorable? Where do these names come from? Do they mean something or are they hard to come up with? Considering the fact that most authors have their own ways of developing character names, I can only speak for myself. Hopefully this is interesting and informative, but also gives you a few laughs. I’m going to do a run through of each of my character names in COLD IN CALIFORNIA,  how they came to me and why I used them. Here goes.

GABRIEL STRICKLAND – Hero, twice-baked vampire, loner and skeptic. Gabriel’s name came from the obvious places – my life and heaven. Since the double dead vampire was given a second chance to earn a ticket through the Pearly Gates, I thought it might be nice to have the same name as the gatekeeper. It might (and I stress might) give him a leg up when the time comes. His last name came to me because I liked the hard and soft sound of it. Strickland seemed to encompass all of Gabriel’s personality traits and flaws.

CRUDO CUSHMAN – Crudo is the troll in charge of the secret West Hollywood warehouse where Gabriel must live out his purgatory. The place is crowded with dead supernaturals and Crudo cares (grudgingly) about all the inmates. He definitely wants them to earn their way into heaven, but he’s no pushover, he knows trouble when he sees it. Where did his name come from? No clue. I think he just told me as I began writing him. But think about it … a troll, five foot nothing, swarthy and gruff. What else would his name be?

PETE MALONEY – With so many dead and double-dead supernatural races coping with having to suddenly behave themselves and be good enough to make the grade, Crudo needed some help. Pete Maloney (all around nice guy and demised werewolf) came to me in a dream. He was big and  warm, kinda like everyone’s favorite Uncle Pete so that’s where his first name came from. After that I discovered that inside my head, every time I wrote his dialogue he had a slight Irish brogue. He’s goodhearted, funny, a great friend and support for Crudo. Oh, and Pete has no designs on the big responsibilities. He likes being number two. It suits him just fine.

SHIRLEY – Oh, dead pixie Shirley only goes by one name. She’s the Cher of the warehouse, hot, sexy and insatiable. She’s a gorgeous supernatural woman pretty much living in the middle of an ongoing “squirrel moment”. Self absorbed but sweet, Shirley has an impact on just about everything and everyone at the warehouse. She got her name because I loved the fact that Crudo liked to call her “Shirley Girly” … that and “Trouble”.

NATHAN COOK – How does evil look to most readers? Ugly? Demonic? Nope, startlingly beautiful. I needed a villain that took a reader’s breath away but he too needed a few little distracting flaws. What he had in looks, he certainly wouldn’t have in savvy. Nathan is a bit of an egotistical jerk, the kind of man who as a kid, never got picked for the baseball team, the one who didn’t realize he was walking around with a “kick me” sign on his back or toilet paper on his shoe. As an adult his striking good looks and dark witchcraft put him into a league of his own, so who cared about not being popular, he was powerful. So, his name had to be powerful too. It had to be a name that never politely asked for what he wanted, it demanded.

DORI GALLAGHER – I never met a Dori, much less a Dorianna and when Dori formed in my imagination, I wanted the perfect name for Gabriel to want to roll off his tongue. Dori’s not too pretty or special, in fact, I was really focused on her imperfections that would attract Gabriel. I wanted her to have a name that stood out but not so much it demanded attention. I wanted a name for this woman that told her story … and that’s something shocking you don’t learn until the very last few pages of the book.

And two more for good measure …

FEEVER CLOVELY – Feever Clovely is a dead leprechaun. In my imagining, leprechauns are conniving, grumbling, unhappy beings who are always taking a political stand of some kind. Feever is the head of the West Hollywood Warehouse Leprechaun’s Union and he’s always looking to picket something. Where did his name come from? I have no idea, it was just there the minute he arrived in my head. If you run into a leprechaun one day, maybe ask if it’s a common Lep name.

DON CARSON – Both Feever Clovely, the dead leprechaun and Don Carson, ancient Soul Eater, are small players in Cold in California, but I wanted to touch on their characters and names because both play a huge role in the second book in The Twice Baked Vampire Series, Monkey Jump.  A Soul Eater is immortal, sort of. He serves a Sin Eater. How did this particular Soul Eater get his name? Well … he reminded me of a former boss of mine. Not that the boss was a soul eater, but he was brilliant, a company man who played by the rules and seriously competitive. My Soul Eater needed a contemporary name because he’s always around, trying to do his job. A simple name like Don fit the bill. He seems to like it.

So … there ya go. Character names and where they come from. Is this what you expected?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series! Book 1, Cold in California  !

Cold in California cover, lgCOLD IN CALIFORNIA

 

There’s a Troll in the House

Trolls. Norse mythology. Ugly, rarely described as helpful or friendly creatures. In Scandinavian mythology, they have something to do with lightening. Mystical, not-so-attractive, poisonous and powerful dudes.

Yeah. Right.

In truth, trolls are many things to many people. Your mother-in-law. Your ex-lover. Your boss/manager/pain-in-the-butt coworker. Your landlord. Maybe even your noisy neighbor. Have you ever thought though that trolls are just people like everyone else? Only with an attitude problem? Maybe a wart or two?

Today I’m not talking about short, smelly creatures that live under the bridges (and we do have a LOT of bridges here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania). I’m talking about trolls who pop in and out of our fantasy fiction whenever they damn well please! They may come in the form of a sudden desire to change the entire plot. Maybe they appear as a new and unexplored personality glitch in your hero or heroine. But sometimes they simply show up as … trolls.

The last thing I thought I’d write into Cold in California was a troll, but Crudo Cushman pushed his stout, vertically-challenged personality in so intensely, he became a key character! See, Crudo is the manager at the West Hollywood warehouse where my hero, poor twice-baked vampire, Gabriel Strickland, is stuck living out an undetermined purgatory. Crudo is tough, he’s persnickety and never lived under a bridge in his life. Today, he’s taking charge of the blog.

When I told him to get out of my head, he snorted. “Why, what are you doing that’s so damn important?”

“I’m blogging because people love to read the blog.” I said as politely as I could.

“Move over, woman, I’ll tell you what a real blog is!”

Okay, it’s happened to all of us. Writers are especially susceptible to this particular curse. It seems the inmates have taken over the asylum again. The following is a bit of information conveyed to me from Crudo Cushman himself. Needless to say, I’m compelled to pass it on.

According to this troll, the word ‘blog’ comes from ancient troll culture. He informs me that a blog was a roughly hewn shirt upon which a troll would make markings, symbols that indicated his or her (of course there are female trolls, just look around you) position within troll society. During his troll life, Crudo had never risen beyond mucking mud, which was symbolized by a pig’s snout made with red mire found in a certain bog several miles outside his village. He’d dip the side of his clenched fist into the mud and press it firmly against his shirt. It didn’t look like a pig’s snout, but it was recognizable by all. The bog-marked blog stank to high heaven even after the mark dried. If it rained, Crudo would need to remark himself. Where he lived, it rained a lot.

He says he envied the higher ranks, those whose blogs were etched with fine smears of brilliant green grass stains or careful figures drawn with bits of soft, colored stone, but Crudo came from a proud, long line of mud muckers and until his father passed, he wore the red snout, albeit with hidden embarrassment and hate.

When Crudo met his demise six hundred years later, he found himself in the West Hollywood warehouse and has since done very well. He moved up the ranks from “inmate” to “head honcho”, traded his rough, mud-stained blog for pressed white linen and bling and vowed to never, ever get dirty again. The symbols on his shirt these days say:

I’m in charge … I’m the boss … I’m watching you … and of course, Ralph Loren blessedly stitched on the silk tag inside his collar.

 Vampire Explored is a blog by Deborah Riley-Magnus, author of the Twice-Baked Vampire Series. Book 1, Cold in California

Cold in California cover, lgCOLD IN CALIFORNIA